Fission-Based Electric Propulsion for Interstellar Precursor Missions

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This paper reviews the technology options for a fission-based electric propulsion system for interstellar precursor missions. To achieve a total {Delta}V of more than 100 km/s in less than a decade of thrusting with an electric propulsion system of 10,000s Isp requires a specific mass for the power system of less than 35 kg/kWe. Three possible configurations are described: (1) a UZrH-fueled,NaK-cooled reactor with a steam Rankine conversion system,(2) a UN-fueled gas-cooled reactor with a recuperated Brayton conversion system, and (3) a UN-fueled heat pipe-cooled reactor with a recuperated Brayton conversion system. All three of these systems have the potential ... continued below

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10 p.

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HOUTS,MICHAEL G.; LENARD,ROGER X.; LIPINSKI,RONALD J.; PATTON,BRUCE; POSTON,DAVID & WRIGHT,STEVEN A. November 3, 1999.

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  • Sandia National Laboratories
    Publisher Info: Sandia National Labs., Albuquerque, NM, and Livermore, CA (United States)
    Place of Publication: Albuquerque, New Mexico

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This paper reviews the technology options for a fission-based electric propulsion system for interstellar precursor missions. To achieve a total {Delta}V of more than 100 km/s in less than a decade of thrusting with an electric propulsion system of 10,000s Isp requires a specific mass for the power system of less than 35 kg/kWe. Three possible configurations are described: (1) a UZrH-fueled,NaK-cooled reactor with a steam Rankine conversion system,(2) a UN-fueled gas-cooled reactor with a recuperated Brayton conversion system, and (3) a UN-fueled heat pipe-cooled reactor with a recuperated Brayton conversion system. All three of these systems have the potential to meet the specific mass requirements for interstellar precursor missions in the near term. Advanced versions of a fission-based electric propulsion system might travel as much as several light years in 200 years.

Physical Description

10 p.

Notes

INIS; OSTI as DE00015018

Medium: P; Size: 10 pages

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  • Space Technology and Applications International Forum 2000 (STAIF-2000), Albuquerque, NM (US), 01/30/2000--02/03/2000

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  • Report No.: SAND99-2871C
  • Grant Number: AC04-94AL85000
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 15018
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc624244

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  • November 3, 1999

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  • June 16, 2015, 7:43 a.m.

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  • April 6, 2017, 6:54 p.m.

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HOUTS,MICHAEL G.; LENARD,ROGER X.; LIPINSKI,RONALD J.; PATTON,BRUCE; POSTON,DAVID & WRIGHT,STEVEN A. Fission-Based Electric Propulsion for Interstellar Precursor Missions, article, November 3, 1999; Albuquerque, New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc624244/: accessed June 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.